In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers

Many Croatian families have been actively involved in the Province's commercial fishery to the present day. Croatians were first drawn to B.C. by the gold rush of 1858. The first permanent Croatian settlement in Canada, Port Guichon, was established at present-day Ladner in 1881 and soon attracted a number of Croatian fishing families. By 1883, a small cannery was opened on Westham Island by Croatian Immigrants, Dominic Bussanich and Antonio Cosulich. By the 1890s, British Columbia was attracting a large number of Croatian immigrants from the states of Washington and California. By 1937, there were over 4,000 Croatians living in Greater Vancouver and many more had settled near the fishing and mining towns of Campbell River, Nanaimo and Port Alberni.

Croatians involved in the fishing industry have almost always worked in the seine fisheries. Some, like the Martinolich family of Ladner, were pioneers of purse seine technology in British Columbia. They introduced one of the Province's first seine boats in 1911. The Brajcich family represents three generations of Croatian fishermen on British Columbia seine boats. Croatians have long played a central role in British Columbia's fishing industry.


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